Deep Time Experience in Ariège: the explorers’ confidence just before their departure to the Lombrives Cave

The Basics After a long selection process, 14 volunteers were selected to take part in this unprecedented experience. These 1st men and 7 women, who were selected from 1,500 people, have to live together underground for 40 days. Encounters and confidentiality a few hours before their departure for Lombrives and the life camp of the expedition, 45 minutes walk from the entrance to the cave.

Between concern and impatience, the 15 adventurers of the Deep Time project threw themselves into the cave of the Lombrives Cave that Sunday evening. A few hours before their departure, these 8 men and 7 women were impatient as well as fearful.

Why they take part in the experience …

Kora Saccharin, 30, Parisian, business information and computer security analyst, has been interested in Christian Clot’s work for several years. As a member of “Mission 20” (a series of four expeditions to the adaptability of learning groups) she is now living her first mission with the 13 other Deep Time candidates: “I liked this project very much. It is a mission that is very complete and where there is a goal to know and relate to others. What makes it so rich is that it takes place in a group. There is a relationship with the body and an intellectual goal that has that experience somewhere with the mission of her life. “

Kora Saccharin, 30, analyst.

For the Grenoblois Jérôme Normand, anesthetist and resuscitation artist of the group, this mission is an opportunity to sever the connection. “This exploration is a real challenge for me and when I do it in a group it takes on a different dimension. When you venture into the unknown, you discover things about yourself and about others, and I hope it will be a positive experience. It is not part of the project, but I would also like to experience it if I am disconnected from all networks and all Covid-19 information for 40 days. We will limit ourselves to people who have tested negative so that we will not have all of the health restrictions we know. In the end we will limit ourselves to more freedom. “”

Jérôme Normand, 43, doctor.

Émilie Kim-Foo, originally from Reunion Island and a nurse in Toulouse, is “overwhelmed” by the idea of ​​living this unique experience with Christian Clot and 13 other people. The 29-year-old was immediately convinced of the idea. Like Kora, she had participated in “Mission 20”. “I immediately wanted to take part in this incredible adventure. I dream of adventure and at the same time I have been interested in the science side since I was a child, she admits. This unique experience mixes the two together and suddenly it totally suits me. “”

Émilie Kim-Foo, 29, nurse.

Johan François, 37, math and sailing instructor in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, comes from humanitarian work. “I worked in refugee camps. There is one problem we can bring together. Suddenly they leave large rooms and after a catastrophe, for example climatic, they are locked in a camp. You have to deal with a lot of stress. What interests me is to develop the science further, not to go to Mars, but to save lives in difficult contexts. “

Johan François, 37, math teacher.

Your fears, just before the experience begins …

The silence, the darkness, a humidity of 95%, a cool temperature and this kind of isolation … What makes you tremble?

Johan is not worried, especially since there is a “way out”: “We can leave the experience at any time. It’s not a game with € 100,000 in the key, it’s a scientific experiment, ”he explains.
If Émilie is afraid of living without a time scale, it isn’t one of her greatest worries. “The main thing that bothers me is the cold. I have been taking part in the transport of the material in the Lombrives cave for the past few days and there is really a lot of humidity (around 95%). I understood what to expect and, being careful, it worries me a little. “On the other hand, the young woman is afraid of adopting a different chronobiological rhythm than her other teammates. “I’m afraid I won’t see my teammates. live totally unconventional. But I keep my fingers crossed, it will happen. We are 15, I imagine I’ll meet someone. “In the end, the nurse admits,” the biggest job will be our own. “

For his part, Johan still fears the call of the sea: “I fear my desire to go out,” he explains. To get back to a normal life: friends, family, the sea, walks in the woods … we will be very focused on ourselves. I hope to have some confidantes to relieve the pressure. “

And after the release …

“Take a hot bath,” smiles Johan.

And how much does it cost?

The Deep Time project amounts to a total of 1.2 million euros. On the one hand, there are costs for your own installation of EUR 540,000, which are financed by private, public or scientific partners. Much of it is based on funds from the Human Adaptation Institute. In addition, funds are made available for certain scientific protocols, each of which has its own budget.

Étienne Koechlin, researcher, would like to learn more about the brain

Researcher Etienne Koechlin, researcher, director of Inserm’s cognitive neuroscience research laboratory, alongside Christian Clot.

He is one of the many scientists from different horizons participating in the Deep Time experiment: Étienne Koeuchlin, researcher, director and founder of the cognitive and computational neuroscience laboratory in Inserm, discovered Lombrives yesterday, but he has been measuring for a long time Project point: “There have been many studies in chronobiology that have focused on the biological rhythms associated with this loss of temporal landmarks,” he points out. What is new is to investigate how this loss of temporal landmarks affects the brain. The brain is a very plastic organ that adapts. So it will adapt in one way or another – we have no idea right now – and who says adapting the brain also means adapting its cognitive and emotional functions. “To” better understand the physiological connection between human knowledge and the body, “he concludes. This loss of landmarks interests many other researchers, such as Quentin Montardy, PhD in Neuroscience: “I will try to find out whether there is a particular signature of stress in people exposed to a near-survival environment, and if vice versa, emotional countermeasures can be taken . ” Have an influence on the stress of the test persons ”. The scientific conclusions that are delivered after the end of the experiment are of interest to many other areas, such as space: The life camp of the timeless explorers looks very similar to a lunar base. And their living conditions are reminiscent of those of other explorers, those of space.

Mélusine Mallender, the adventurer
immerse for six days

Mélusine Mallander, adventurer, humanist and feminist, will spend the first six nights with the (non) time researchers.

“Explorer, adventurer, humanist and feminist”, Mélusine Mallender is one of the few women in the world who goes on lonely motorcycle expeditions. Followed by more than 30,000 people on her Facebook account, the explorer says she was delighted with this unprecedented experience: “I’m very excited about this extraordinary expedition … It’s still pretty crazy to imagine that there are fewer of people who voluntarily lock themselves up as From people who climbed into space or climbed Everest, it’s completely insane and I’m really happy to be a part of it, ”she admits. The adventurer, who is used to working with the researcher Christian Clot and who is also responsible for the “Image and Parity” projects, explains how important it is to respect parity among the candidates: “Many scientific studies are mainly Men, while the company is made up of men and women, it was unthinkable not to be alike on this mission, ”she explains. The adventurer, member of the Society of French Explorers, is one of the pillars of the Deep Time project: “I will accompany you and stay with you for 6 nights to film you and see if the installation goes well,” she adds . Once the good start of the experiment is confirmed, the cave’s airlock will be closed again to meet the 15 voluntary restrictions: “In this somewhat dark context, this mission shows that you cannot be defeated and that we can do basic exploration science and build things up on our territory. With that part of the mystery in this project that I adore, which is that we absolutely have no idea what is going to happen in this cave ”;

In the spotlight

Media from all over France in the Prehistory Park. Journalists from all over France attended the press conference for the presentation of the Deep Time project, which was organized this Sunday morning in the Prehistory Park. Proof, if it was still necessary, that this project enabled Ariège to shine on the national scene and even internationally.

Under the gaze of the cameras.